I notice that a few of the 90 men on my chart have apparently alarming results. Their telomeres indicate a “biological age” 20 years or more higher than their real age. This means that, at least statistically, they may be much closer to death than most people their age. One of these men comes from a family with a long history of early cancers, according to Life Length’s CEO Stephen Matlin. He has offered those with worryingly high results a free second test after three months, to see whether anything has changed. My report also warns, however, that results may reflect temporary illness or ongoing medical treatments – effectively skewing them. And some results on the chart look plain bizarre. One tester, for example, appears to have – at least statistically – a biological age of around 120. Two people aged above 60, together with a clutch of 30-year-olds, have an estimated biological age below zero – presumably because their telomeres are in better shape than might be expected of the average baby. Life Length said this reflected the fact that little research had been done on the telomeres of the very young.
Individual testing, then, is still in nappies. Far more exciting are the possible future advances to come from telomere research, says Blasco. “One is telomerase activation, because of its potential to reverse ageing. And proving which diseases can benefit from telomerase activation, in order for this to be something druggable.”